CCA Presents 2012 MFA Exhibition


California College of the Arts

MFA Exhibition 2012

May 10-19, 2012

San Francisco, Calif., March 30, 2012--California College of the Arts will present its 2012 MFA Show from Thursday, May 10, through Saturday, May 19, 2012 (open 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily), with an opening reception on May 10 from 6-10 p.m. The exhibition features works by nearly 50 artists graduating this spring from CCA’s Graduate Program in Fine Arts. It unfolds throughout CCA’s San Francisco campus, giving visitors an opportunity to tour most of the college. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public.

The MFA Exhibition is part of a larger year-end celebration that includes thesis exhibitions by all seven CCA graduate programs; the Baccalaureate Exhibition, featuring works by students graduating from the 21 undergraduate programs; the Annual Fashion Show; and more (see for details on all of the CCA commencement events).

CCA’s MFA Exhibition is always a lively showcase of works across a vast range of media, made by some of the most exciting artists working today. It is organized by faculty member and Artforum art critic Glen Helfand. Helfand says: “This year offers a fascinating range of formats and subjects, with works in various media addressing the space race, fame, identity, commodity culture, the masculine theater of television wrestling, and genre cinema. There are paintings composed of plastic sheeting, installations merging textiles and animation, a work that harnesses the literal and figurative power of the slide projector, and an artist-devised tarot deck that foretells powerful things for the future.”

Selected Artist Profiles

Stephanie Jane Halmos strives to push against established modes of representation (in particular self-representation) related to women’s appearance and behavior. She states, “I use tropes such as beauty, eroticism, and humor as a Trojan horse of sorts, unapologetically asking the viewer to look at the bodies on display, confusing the quest for visibility with the inevitability of objectification.” She plans to exhibit large-scale photographs alongside similarly scaled video works, showing women as performers in moments of discomfort, opulence, ecstasy, or resignation.

Christine M. Peterson is interested in the balance of absence and presence. “Whether by loss or deletion, obstruction or forgetting, every absence invariably allows the presence of something else. Removal and revealing are inextricably linked,” she says. These ideas are manifested in her work via negative space, obscured imagery, restrained aesthetics, and an emphasis on context and periphery. She will be showing a large installation of projected and reflected light. The lensless projection will obscure specific imagery in favor of shifting fields of pattern and color.

Christine Elfman’s work involves impractical processes that sacrifice the subject and create instead an impermanent image. She will present a 16-mm film entitled Flower Hunting, the making of which involved picking flowers and extracting their essential colors, which she then used to paint the flowers’ likenesses. The colors are inherently light sensitive and fade when exposed to light. Accompanying the film will be a series of boxes containing the paintings of the flowers. Each time a painting is viewed, it will fade a bit more. Elfman’s process sacrifices the flower in favor of its image, then sacrifices the image in favor of the audience’s viewing of it.

Liam Everett’s work is based on what he calls the possibilities of practice itself; he views this as an exercise that is acutely positioned in the present. Crucial to his work is the question of support and how a form exists in relation to its support with respect to engagement and flexibility. To illustrate this idea, Everett will present an installation and a performance piece that directly relate to the gallery space that has been allotted to him. The work will emerge out of an integrated approach to the surroundings rather than being synthesized from a separate initial concept.

Melissa Dickenson uses an iterative process of stretching and layering thin, fragile sheets of plastic to create her works. She imagines each sheet, at first delicate and free, becoming trapped and asphyxiated beneath the next layer. Dickenson's work demonstrates the fragility of the individual and the strength of the mass. Each plastic sheet alone is delicate until it is combined with other sheets, so that the assemblage becomes strong and durable, even if this strength comes at the expense of the singularity of each individual component.

About CCA’s Graduate Program in Fine Arts

Central to CCA’s Graduate Program in Fine Arts curriculum is the idea that developing a sustained, critical practice is an essential part of creating a dynamic career as a professional artist. Our MFA program helps students to gain a deeper understanding of their own ideas and practice, to gain greater awareness of the global context of contemporary art, and to develop the skills in presentation needed to pursue a career in the visual arts. For more information, visit

About California College of the Arts

Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is noted for the interdisciplinarity and breadth of its programs. It offers studies in 21 undergraduate and seven graduate majors in the areas of fine arts, architecture, design, and writing. The college offers bachelor of architecture, bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of architecture, master of arts, master of fine arts, and master of business administration degrees. With campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, CCA currently enrolls 1,950 full-time students. Noted alumni include the painters Nathan Oliveira and Raymond Saunders; the ceramicists Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, and Peter Voulkos; the filmmaker Wayne Wang; the conceptual artists David Ireland and Dennis Oppenheim; and the designers Lucille Tenazas and Michael Vanderbyl. For more information about CCA, visit


May 10-19, 2012
California College of the Arts presents its
2012 MFA Show

Location: CCA San Francisco campus, 1111 Eighth Street (at 16th and Wisconsin), San Francisco CA 94107-2247
Reception: Thursday, May 10, 2012, 6-10 p.m.
Open hours: 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily

Cost: Free 


Brenda Tucker 415.703.9548
Allison Byers 415.703.9541


Press images and interviews with the artists are available upon request. Visit to view selected student work.